Author: Alex Thompson

What To Do After a Relapse?

what to do after a relapse

Using again may be deadly as the risk of overdose is higher. Drug treatment research has shown that the level and quality of support and aftercare directly determines how people who have relapsed will fair after the event. Often, those who do not receive adequate support after a relapse will choose not to continue with treatment. One of the most important ways to prevent and treat a relapse is through social support.

It’s fine to acknowledge them, but not to dwell on them, because they could hinder the most important action to take immediately—seeking help. Taking quick action can ensure that relapse is a part of recovery, not a detour from it. Relapse is most likely in the first 90 days after embarking on recovery, but in general it typically happens within the first year. Recovery is a developmental process and relapse is a risk before a person has acquired a suite of strategies for coping not just with cravings but life stresses and established new and rewarding daily routines.

Once you’ve taken steps toward recovery, it’s important to address the relationships that may have been damaged during relapse. Explain what occurred and what you are doing to get back on track. It’s important to also explain how your relapse doesn’t mean you’ve failed, and you will be taking further action to prevent relapse from happening again. The help of a strong support system such as friends, family, community members and a sponsor is very beneficial after a relapse. To fully address your relapse and get back on your path to recovery, however, you need professional addiction treatment. Nothing can replace the knowledge, care and individual recovery planning that a professional can provide.

You or a loved one would benefit from recommitting to recovery. Try speaking to an addiction counselor or sponsor who can help you to work through cravings and a  desire to use. It is worth noting that while relapse is part of recovery for some people, it can still represent a risk for people who use more potent drugs like opioids. When a person stops using substances, their tolerance decreases.

Therapy for those in recovery and their family is often essential for healing those wounds. Some models of addiction highlight the causative role of early life trauma and emotional pain from it. Some people contend that addiction is actually a misguided attempt to address emotional pain. However, it’s important to recognize that no one gets through life without emotional pain.

How Common is Relapse?

Before you can move forward after a relapse, it’s important to look at why the relapse occurred in the first place. When you know why you relapsed, you can adjust your treatment plan to focus on the factors that challenge your long-term recovery. Sometimes, stressful events can trigger a relapse, particularly if the addictive substance or behavior was used to cope with stress. But happy events can also trigger a relapse, especially if others celebrate with alcohol.

  1. They find stable employment, start a family or engage in healthy hobbies.
  2. By practicing relapse prevention techniques, you can develop ways to avoid these triggers altogether or discover how to deal with them in a way that supports your recovery.
  3. The general meaning of relapse is a deterioration in health status after an improvement.
  4. This will give you the strength and motivation you need to focus on getting back into recovery.

During emotional relapse, people aren’t considering drinking or using. However, they aren’t practicing coping behaviors or proper self-care. Cravings can be dealt with in a great variety of ways, and each person needs as array of coping strategies to discover which ones work best and under what circumstances.

Are There Stages of Relapse?

Learning what one’s triggers are and acquiring an array of techniques for dealing with them should be essential components of any recovery program. The path to sobriety comes with challenges, and many recovery journeys include a period of relapse into alcohol or drug use. This is why it is best to have a solid relapse prevention plan.

Mutual support groups are usually structured so that each member has at least one experienced person to call on in an emergency, someone who has also undergone a relapse and knows exactly how to help. The longer someone neglects self-care, the more that inner tension builds to the point of discomfort and discontent. Cognitive resistance weakens and a source of escape takes on appeal. This stage is characterized by a tug of war between past habits and the desire to change. Thinking about and romanticizing past drug use, hanging out with old friends, lying, and thoughts about relapse are danger signs.

But sometimes triggers can’t be avoided—you accidentally encounter someone or pass a place where  you once used. Moreover, the brain is capable of awakening memories of drug use on its own. How individuals deal with setbacks plays a major role in recovery—and influences the very prospects for full recovery. Many who embark on addiction recovery see it in black-and-white, all-or-nothing terms. That view contrasts with the evidence that addiction itself changes the brain—and stopping use changes it back.

what to do after a relapse

It is in accord with the evidence that the longer a person goes without using, the weaker the desire to use becomes. Experts in the recovery process believe that relapse is a process and that identifying its stages can help people take preventative action. Once you’re aware of these stages, you may be able to prevent the physical relapse by identifying the early warning signs.

Is Relapse a Sign of Failure?

Using drugs once during recovery doesn’t necessarily mean that a person has relapsed. A single use is usually referred to as a “slip.” Some people can slip without relapsing, but drinking or using increases the chance of relapse. Some people never fully recover, but they learn to cope with symptoms of the disease. Most people in recovery from addiction are always vulnerable to relapse. Such feelings sabotage recovery in other ways as well—negative feelings are disquieting and are often what drive people to seek relief or escape in substances to begin with.

The American Society of Addiction Medicine  (ASAM) defines relapse as the recurrence of behavioral or other substantive indicators of active disease after a period of remission. And then one night, a coworker asks you to grab a drink after work. That’s the last thing you remember when you wake up in the hospital the next morning. Getting through the holidays while maintaining recovery, especially for people newer to this life-changing process, is an accomplishment worthy of celebration in its own right.

How to Get Your Recovery Back on Track

As people continue to practice poor self-care, they transition into a mental relapse. What is more, negative feelings can create a negative mindset that erodes resolve and motivation for change and casts the challenge of recovery as overwhelming, inducing hopelessness. A relapse or even a lapse might be interpreted as proof that a person doesn’t have what it takes to leave addiction behind. Engaging in self-care may sound like an indulgence, but it is crucial to recovery.